In an op-ed published Tuesday on Antiwar.com, Rep. Ron Paul says the Obama administration has violated due process by authorizing the CIA to kill Americans abroad.
In a recent speech at Northwestern University, Attorney General Eric Holder outlined the legal framework for the government to use lethal force in targeted killings of Americans overseas. Just five months after the killing of U.S.-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in a drone attack, Holder explained that the administration believes America can kill U.S. citizens if the president determines them to be a threat to the nation. This is not a violation of the Constitution, because the president can determine whether someone deserves due process: “a careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to ‘due process,” Holder said.
“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack,” Holder said. “In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.”
“Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” said Holder. “This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”
Paul disagrees. He says Holder's decision "means that the administration believes it is the president himself who is to be the judge, jury, and executioner." Paul writes:
"It is particularly bizarre to hear the logic of the administration claiming the right to target its citizens according to some secret selection process, when we justified our attacks against Iraq and Libya because their leaders supposedly were targeting their own citizens!
… I believe that any individual who is engaging in violence against this country or its citizens should be brought to justice. But … our civilian courts have a very good track record of trying and convicting individuals involved with terrorism against the United States. Our civilian court system, with the guarantee of real due process, judicial review, and a fair trial, is our strength, not a weakness. It is not an impediment to be sidestepped in the push for convictions or assassinations, but rather a process that guarantees that fundamental right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”
Paul concludes that the Obama administration's decision, and Congress' acceptance of it, is one of the reasons the American people hold Washington in such low regard.
"The misuse of and disregard for our Constitution for partisan political gain is likely one reason the American public holds Congress in such low esteem. Now the stakes are much higher. Congress and the people should finally wake up!"
Join the debate: Do you side with Eric Holder and the Obama administration, or Ron Paul? Should the government have the authority to target and kill U.S. citizens abroad to protect national security? Why or why not?
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